RE: How to Start?

Subject: RE: How to Start?
From: "Swallow, William" <WSwallow -at- courion -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 16 May 2001 07:58:57 -0400

I think Pankaj should watch this thread as well. :)

:: I joined a software house as their sole Technical
:: Writer only some days ago. Their system covers a wide
:: variety of banking services and transactions. A new
:: module has been developed and I am responsible for
:: covering the technical communication for it: print and
:: online documentation.

Sounds like a good project!

:: My request is from where I should start and how and
:: when I should submit a reasonable time estimate and a
:: schedule for the entire project until it is released.
:: Please keep in mind that I have to design a new Word
:: template for the user manual, and have to get training
:: on RoboHelp and the banking system as well.

First you need to talk to the project leads in development and determine how
complicated the product is, and then determine at what level you should be
documenting it (administrator vs. end-user level). Then, based on that info,
start developing a rudimentary table of contents, illustrating to yourself
and to others what the logical flow of the information should be and how
in-depth that information will be.

Though a template will definitely help you in the long run (consistency and
speed in applying styles), I think you need to determine what the bare-bones
styles are that you will need to get the job done (body text, heading
levels/styles, any indentation and numbering/lists) and just plug those in.
Then get cracking.

Of course, knowing what timeframe you have to work in will help. ;) When is
your deadline, and how many review cycles do you need to account for? As for
RoboHelp, I don't know if you can get training or not in the Middle East...
I'm just not familiar with that part of the world, so I unfortunately cannot
help you there. But, you should be able to learn the product reasonably well
on your own (perhaps with a third party book). If you need specific Help
authoring questions answered, you should consider joining the HATT mailing
list (Help Authoring Tools & Techniques) at (you can subscribe by mail as well by
sending an email to hatt-subscribe -at- yahoogroups -dot- com, but you won't have
access to the Web interface and tools therein).

Good luck!

Technical Writer
1881 Worcester Road
Framingham, Mass. 01701
T E L * 508-879-8400 x316
F A X * 508-879-8500


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